How to stay safe online

4 March 2024

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February saw the commemoration of Safer Internet Day, dedicated to promoting safer and more responsible use of online technology – something which is becoming both more complex and evermore prevalent in our increasingly digital work and home lives. 

At Unity Online our commitment to leaving no business behind online means that we’re also committed to the online safety of those we work with – our team, our clients and our community. Whether it’s how we handle our own passwords or protecting company websites, client data and corporate liability, we’re big fans of safety first. 

Broadly speaking, cyber security covers six key areas: network security, application security, information security, cloud security, IoT security, and identity and access management. These are subject to theft, malware, phishing, and data loss amongst other things. 

While it’s a topic that could probably keep us here all year if we wanted it to, here’s what you need to know to get started with online safety. If you have any other questions, give us a shout – we’d love to speak to you.

Online safety basics

Something we can all do to protect ourselves online is pay attention to our passwords – how we set them up, how we secure them, and how we add in an extra couple of safety measures – just in case.

Password strength 

The strength of our passwords is something that most of us have drummed into us now on a relatively frequent basis. Most applications prompt you to create a secure password with the help of an online generator, which means it’s totally random and unguessable. The key here is not just to have a random password, but to have a different one for every application. That way, even if one gets hacked the chances of everything being compromised when they’ve all got completely different codes is extremely slim. 

Password managers

We would suggest that it’s generally good advice to also have a password manager. While some would argue that having all your passwords in one place is insecure, what a manager will do is warn you if passwords are duplicated or have been compromised, giving you the opportunity to update them in line with best practice. As passwords go into a one way encryption, it’s not possible for others to see them, but it can tell if it’s been used a lot by other people, adding another layer to reduce the probability of being compromised.

Multi-factor authentication

The other recommendation for protecting passwords is to use multi-factor authentication. Usually the options for this will include using the Google Authenticator app, or adding a text message component to your login requirements.

Getting digitally savvy 

The next level of online security starts to get into a bit more detail around daily activity, covering both our individual actions, our actions as employees, and the basics of company cyber security.

Keeping all software up to date

Starting with operating systems, one of the easiest ways to lay the foundations for cyber security is to stay up to date with software updates when you’re prompted to do them. Don’t turn off updates on laptops or phones, and if you have a very old phone that will no longer offer security updates then it’s time to think about investing in a more modern one, especially if you’re logging into things like emails and online banking software. 


Malware is something we simply have to be really aware of, and this is where it’s important to start being savvy. Some companies have laptops without any ability to use a USB on them because as soon as you use one that’s compromised they can gain access to the computer’s camera and so forth as long as the Internet’s on. The best advice here is not to plug anything into your computer if you don’t know exactly where it came from and don’t download anything from an email you don’t know. Phishing emails are becoming increasingly difficult to identify so staying aware can be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. As a business we would tend to tell our team in a group chat if one of us has received a suspicious email, recommending everyone delete the email and block the sender. One of the best ways to get an idea if something is questionable is to Google it before you open it – never underestimate the power of Google.

Protecting your business online 

For businesses, there are additional requirements and risks when it comes to online security, ranging from the challenge of downtime if your website is hacked to the risk to your reputation if information is compromised and your legal liability if due diligence has not been paid to online information. 

Your website and your reputation 

Similar principles apply to websites as operating systems. For businesses, even if you have a basic brochure website, it’s often the first port of call for clients looking at who you are and what you do. For it to be compromised can be at best inconvenient and at worst highly damaging to reputation and revenue. The starting point to protecting it is to make sure it’s kept technologically up to date, and to migrate to new versions as recommended. Usually updates are relatively minor, but every now and again there’s a significant change. Having a hosting provider that offers active support is arguably the best way to keep on top of things. 

Data and liability 

If you hold client data and you’re subject to a breach, businesses can find themselves liable for fines and penalties if they have not taken the necessary steps to take care of sensitive information by working with the right providers and doing their due diligence. That can all seem a bit of  a daunting prospect but it is something that the right online partner can help with by ensuring the right procedures are in place to limit the chances of a breach, and ensure you’re covered if there is.

How Unity Online protects your estate 

At Unity Online we offer our hosting clients maintenance retainers based on a monthly fee to make sure everything is up to date and optimise the security of your website and its information. That includes health and security checks, server security, and on-hand advice as to your next steps for anything we don’t cover in-house. 

If you would like to find out more about our online security services, contact our team any time.

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